Nativity In Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath – Review

Nativity In Black

A Tribute to Black Sabbath (Columbia)
by Joe Hacking

The true success which Black Sabbath has achieved lies not in the modest money they’ve made in their fruitful career, but in being the grandfathers of modern heavy metal/hard rock. Let the baby boomers rant and rave about Blue Cheer and Iron Butterfly being the first heavy bands of all time, but what were you listening to in your resin-stained bedrooms at age ten-something? I don’t think it was “Inagadadavida.”

The good folks over at Columbia Records finally realized how influential Sabbath was for so many of us disenfranchised types, and they’ve gathered together some of the industry’s finest Sabbath disciples. Unlike the well-intentioned Kiss tribute, Kiss My Ass, you’ll be hearing no Garth Brooks or Gin Blossoms here. This is Sabbath done by Sabbath heads for Sabbath heads.

Among the highlights: Biohazard‘s savage rendition of “After Forever” gets this tribute off on the right foot. A mean guitar sound and high energy vocals give this song new life.

White Zombie‘s “Children of the Grave” captures the despondency and urgency of the original. Even Zombie’s mandatory audio snippets sound properly placed.

1,000 Homo DJs‘ “Supernaut” is an older cover, but this does not diminish the excellence of Al Jourgensen’s interpretation of the beloved song. This is the same version which ignited the fence at Great Woods, banning Lollapalooza from the Puritan State forever. I need say no more.

Corrosion of Conformity‘s “Lord of This World,” probably one of the strongest covers on the disc, displays the extent to which C.O.C. are influenced by Sabbath. Vocalist Pepper Keenan screams the lyrics to this song with a power unrivaled by any on this tribute. Even Ozzy.

Sepultura‘s Max Cavalera can’t sing worth a shit, but these Brazilians certainly do know how crank out a song. Their “Symptom of the Universe” is painfully tight and crunchy.

Type O Negative does a beautifully evil version of “Black Sabbath.” Singer Peter Steele captures the essence of what this song is talking about with that Lurch-like voice. Here is a band that truly understands Sabbath. And you gotta love the “Killing Yourself to Live” jam at the end.

Other rarities on Nativity In Black include Ozzy singing with Therapy? for a cover of “Iron Man” and the Bullring Brummie‘s (featuring Rob Halford, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward) cover of “The Wizard.” Megadeth and Bruce Dickinson also check in with interpretations of other Sab classics.

The only mistakes were in putting Ugly Kid Joe in charge of “N.I.B.” and a sub-standard, live version of “War Pigs” (by Faith No More) on the disc. FNM are better than this cover makes them sound, and Ugly Kid Joe vocalist Whitney Crane sounds about as ominous as a cub scout. There were just too many bands out there who belonged on this tribute to go printing crap down on the silicone.

Still, the fact remains, Nativity In Black is required listening for anyone who loves Sabbath. This tribute lets you know Black Sabbath lives on in the recordings of the bands that participated. What’s more, the artwork on the disc cover does the band as much justice as the music contained within.